Tom Reeder reviews Fear Of Men at Clwb Ifor Bach
Monday night, and as openers The Echo and The Always materialise on stage, the audience of Clwb Ifor Bach remain scattered, drawn instead to their beer and gossip. It doesn’t take long for The Echo to steal their attention, though, and after the opening song, everyone is listening intently. It’s never easy to open a night, but The Echo and the Always truly work wonders with their melodic, clean sound.
Seasick Steve made his name playing a one-string guitar after busking with it in Paris; it was cool. In contrast, second act Flowers’ use of a one-string bass seems merely a gimmick, adding little to the emptiness of their bleak and melancholic music. Lead singer Rachel’s voice is calming yet vehement, reminiscent of London Grammar’s Hannah Reid, and is perhaps the most compelling factor that Flowers have. Nevertheless, the songwriting lacks diversity, each song almost replicating the one preceding it.
Fear of Men come to the end of their UK tour stopping off for their hotly anticipated Cardiff show, but for the second time this evening, it’s as if a band has been forced to write music to fit a pre-determined image. Instead of expressing their individuality and creativity as musicians, Fear of Men succumb to the old cliché of playing shallow, polite songs with insincere enthusiasm. Their head banging is exaggerated; they’re prancing around on stage as if joined by a teenage mosh pit. It all seems a bit tedious, a lifeless performance of songs that lack substance. It’s unfortunate that the truth lies in the audience’s reaction; where The Echo and The Always captivated Clwb Ifor Bach’s attention, Fear of Men become background music to the clinking of glasses and drunken conversation.